Skip to main content

Full text of "The History Of Western Education"

See other formats


3o8        HISTORY OF WESTERN EDUCATION

finding his academic way blocked by the persecutions his hetero-
doxy provoked, he returned to the subject in 1768, when the furore
created by the Emile was at its height, with Representations to
philanthropists and men of wealth regarding schools and studies and
their influence on public well-being, and achieved an immediate
success which determined him to devote his life to educational
reform. In this book, and in all his subsequent work, two strains
of thought are blended. On the one hand, he revived his early
views of education through play, and to this extent brought
himself into line with a common interpretation of Rousseau's
ideas ; on the other hand, he borrowed freely but without acknow-
ledgment the leading ideas of La Chalotais, and incidentally
brought his work into line with the Prussian tradition. In the
forefront of his scheme he put the proposal for a Supreme Super-
visory Council of Public Instruction which would be,responsible
for schools, books, theatres, and all that concerned the young.
Under this Council, he suggested that there should be instituted
two classes of schools : special schools for the common people in
which physical exercises would occupy half the day, and ordinary
schools for better-class children from ten to fifteen, leading up to
gymnasia from fifteen to twenty. The schools should be open to
children of every religion, and nothing sectarian should be taught
in them. He recognized the difficulties in the way, even acknow-
ledged that it might only be " an agreeable dream," and yet
ventured to believe that some day there would be such schools.
The possibility of achievement, he said, would depend on getting
proper teachers and proper books, and more especially the latter.
If only there were books on the subjects to be taught, which could
be put into the hands of the teachers, the rest would be easy. The
teachers would require no special education. It would be enough
if they were hard-working and prepared to master the contents
of the books before imparting them to their pupils. So far, it will
be noted, Basedow has been following La Chalotais, with
occasional modifications* But when he goes on to discuss the
Elementary Book, " the A B C of human knowledge, both real
and verbal," which he would make the basis of instruction up to
fifteen, he strikes out more for himself. This Elementary Book,
he thinks, would have to be a book (like the Orbis Pictus} with
plenty of pictures and an encyclopedic presentation of the chief
fects of life, including, ia the first place, what needs to be known,